Disney Cruise

This past spring, right before I started working at Disney again, Kass and I went on a Disney Cruise! It was our first proper vacation since our first trip to Disney World together back in 2012. We did a 7-night Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy and we absolutely loved it. We got an indoors stateroom, which was cozy and absolutely adorable. There’s a TV portal in there which allows you to see the camera feed outside and occasionally shows some magical surprises!

Before we left I made some magnetic Mickey door tags for us to decorate our door with. I made a Rapunzel/Tangled one for me and a Pascal for Kass. We love Tangled and it’s our favorite Disney movie. I also made drinking tumblers for us. I decorated them with the Disney Cruise Line logo, “Disney Fantasy” and they have our names on it too. This way we weren’t wasting cups every time we wanted water or something to drink. They ended up being crazy useful. However, instead of using the straw it came with, for health/cleanliness reasons, we decided to bring our bag of IKEA straws to use. One reality of being on a cruise ship, everyone is in tight quarters in relation to each other. Normally I wouldn’t use disposable straws like this, but to prevent any potential illnesses from spreading, we decided this was the healthier option, rather than washing our reusable straw constantly.

So first of all the ship is gorgeous and the food incredible. There are several absolutely stunning bars and lounges through out the ship that are perfect to relax in, especially if you’re traveling without children. There’s a few areas and pools that are 18+ so adults can escape and get some peace and quiet.

There’s tons for kids of all ages to do too, beyond just main pools on the upper decks. They have the Aquaduck, which is a tube ride/coaster that flies high above the ship. The are splash areas (Nemo’s Reef!) for the little ones and Goofy’s sports area if you want to play basketball or similar sports. There are age appropriate lounges/playspaces for everyone from toddlers to teenagers where parent’s aren’t allowed.

There are events, programs, and tours happening all over the ship all the time so on sea days you can always find things to do. If you want to stay in bed, watch Disney movies, and get room services (which is already included in your cruise package) you can do that too! Go to the spa or nap on a chair on the upper deck? Go for it. Meet characters like Peter Pan, Cinderella, or Mickey Mouse? Hang out in the atrium and they might say hi to you instead! Peter Pan, for instance, loved running around the floor and playing with kids once he was done signing autographs. He even took an older lady’s teddy bear, climbed into a window, and hung out for a bit just talking to the bear. It was little moments like these that made the trip really special.

Let me talk about a cast member named Alan for a moment. Alan was our housekeeper during our stay on board. This man knows how to create magic, and not just with crazy awesome towel animals. He knew who we were and greeted us before we even made it to our room the very first time. He would clean, fold, and organize basically everything in the room, including Kass’ dirty boxers! I’m not even kidding! He made Kass and I want to be better people. We wrote him a letter and everything expressing how amazing he is. His is one of the major reasons (or at the very least our primary reason) why the Disney Fantasy was so magical. Next time we’re on board we are absolutely requesting his section (and you totally should too). He is a remarkable one-of-a-kind cast member that creates genuine magic just by being himself.

On our trip we didn’t do much while in port. In St. Thomas we did go zip lining, which was crazy fun, but looking back I’m not 100% sure it was worth the cost. It’s something that you can do all over the place for a much cheaper ticket price than what we paid. When we were in Tortola, we stayed on board and finally got to go on the Aquaduck while most people on board were out on the island. Castaway Cay was the best day in port. Although we didn’t do the Castaway Cay 5K, we walked most of the path in order to get to the adult only beach, where we hung out for most of the day. The beach was amazing. The water was so pretty and the beach was so quiet. We just got to hang out and enjoy ourselves. The food is included but shopping (which is cash only) and alcohol of course isn’t. Jack Sparrow was also walking around/hanging out by us for a bit. He spent a lot of time talking to a service dog named Holly, who was on board with another family. After having a very relaxing morning, we did the adult only snorkeling excursion, which happened to include one of the couples that we went zip lining with (so that was pretty cool). It ended up being more intense than we (more Kass than I but I wasn’t wholly prepared either I guess) thought, because instead of being in a shallow pool and sticking our faces in the water, we were taken out on a boat in the middle of the ocean by a rock and just swam around for like 1.5 hours. Saw a barracuda which was pretty cool (albeit scary). We had bought an inexpensive Go-Pro which caught some cool footage of both snorkeling and zip lining, which was perfect because Kass can’t see much without his glasses. Before we made it back, our guide found a conch which he butchered right in front of us (with like a butter knife) and we got to try it. It was the freshest sea food ever (#notkosher, though admittedly I don’t keep kosher. Topic for a different post). I’m not big on raw seafood to begin with, and to be honest I’m not even sure if I liked it, but it was cool to try it. We tried some Bahamian rum and soda drink, which was very nice, as we partied back to shore (all 8 of us). It was seriously one of the best days on the whole trip.

Although Disney Cruise Line is insanely more expensive than most other cruise lines out there, for us it is worth the cost. We love the atmosphere and the extra mile Disney goes with their ships, team, and adventures. I’m more than willing to try less expensive cruises, but my heart will always belong to Disney. I could spend all day talking about the food and dining rooms, the specific lounges, the spa, shows and entertainment, but I won’t. I’ll leave some for you to discover on your own Disney Cruise. Hopefully we’ll see you there when we’re on board again this summer!

Shabbat Shalom ❤

PS Check out my instagram (which you can access from the Social Media page). There pics from our cruise including our door tags and tumblers! Okay, there’s fewer pics from the cruise than I thought, but there are the door tags and tumblers!

Moving Back to Orlando

Last spring, Kass got a new job and basically had to start almost immediately so I put my notice in at the shul and in a mad dash (more or less) we’re moved back up here to Orlando, together this time.

Since we still had two months left at the old place, we left some non-essential items behind that we would then grab on subsequent trips. Honestly, we began to dread these trips. The thought of driving back to South Florida still fills me with anxiety. We were so unhappy there I never want to feel like that again. AND our old complex charged us even MORE money to clean it (even though we were coming back to clean it before we left entirely but oh well).

Our apartment search went rather smoothly and we settled quickly into our new place. We did basically all the heavy lifting and driving by ourselves though, which wasn’t fun. This included hitching one car to the moving truck which Kass drove, while I drove my car with the cats (Ying & Yang).

Side note: we adopted two sisfurs from the Broward Humane Society! They had been their for about 3 weeks before we fell in love with them and chose to rescue them. They have since settled in with us (almost at our 2 year adopt-aversary!!) and love to play and cuddle (including with each other).

Our current apartment is so much nicer and newer than our old place. It’s smaller, but we’ve managed to fit everything from our old place pretty comfortably. We got rid of our dining room table, but we have a massive kitchen island and we rarely used that table anyway. And we’re saving so much money here in rent, utilities, and insurance compared to our last place! With all the added amenities (including being minutes from Walt Disney World & Universal Studios) it doesn’t even compare.

When we moved back I didn’t have a job lined up in Orlando yet because it was so short notice. I took about 2 weeks to get everything unpacked and take a small breather from my last job before applying anywhere. When I did start applying, I came right back to Disney. In less than a month from reapplying I was lucky enough to be rehired (part-time) in Food & Beverage working at a new restaurant in one of the parks. I’ve since put in for full time and have opened my availability so that way I can try to get at least 32+ hours a week. I enjoy my location, my fellow cast members, and the schedule flexibility to be able to pick and choose when I want to work (more or less).

Some might say I have arguably taken a step back in my career, especially since I took a pay hit coming back to Disney and am not using my degree in a way that would be typically expected of me. To that I say, I am happier here and still earning enough to get by. I plan on using my degree to further my personal life rather than career and engage in Judaism that way. I will always love Judaism and Jewish education, but can’t see myself making a career out of it. If I do, I fear I might start resenting it. That doesn’t mean I don’t plan on using my degree and education every single day to combat ignorance, celebrate life, and carve my own path living a meaningful and Jewish life.

Shavuah tov l’kulam

On Taglit Birthright

Happy New Year Everyone!!

While we were still in South Florida I participated in Taglit Birthright, which is a (almost) free trip to Israel for about 10 days for Jewish young adults (18-26) whom have never been. I’m so glad I went and miss everyone dearly! (Happy one year friend-aversary IR33149!)

Mind you, I’ve been to Israel before in high school on TRY/USY High through Ramah (which I also loved and will wholeheartedly recommend to anyone still in high school or for their children). I’m lucky enough that Taglit Birthright changed the rules that if you went on a high school program but were there for less than 3 months you are still eligible to participate. I did the USY High portion of TRY (which I think has been renamed since but that’s what the shorter program was called then) that was only 2 months long so I could return to the US in time for exams and graduation.

Back to Birthright:

I went through Israel Experts on their Culinary Program for 21-26 year olds, so everyone on our trip loved food or worked with food in some way, shape, or form. Me personally, I had previously worked in the food/beverage/hospitality industry and was looking to get back in it. On my trip we had everyone from self-professed foodies and bloggers to personal chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, and sommeliers. We came from all sorts of Jewish backgrounds too. Some grew up religious, but most didn’t. Some had many Jewish friends, experiences, knowledge but not everyone did.

What I will say about the marvelous people I were with, including the Israeli soldiers on mifgash with us and our staff, that everyone was wholeheartedly themselves. We were very open and accepting of each other. Throughout our journey across Israel that is something we would bring up occasionally: how free we were to be ourselves and how positively it was accepted across the board.  And it was beautiful.

For me personally, as someone who came from a decently strong Jewish background, it was occasionally difficult to remember that not everyone on the trip had even a foundation of Judaism to ground themselves it. But we all learned and grew together.

To this day we’re all still friends, talking on Facebook and planning meet ups. Unfortunately (for me at least) most of everyone is in the NY/NJ area or CA so those people get to hang out more, but I’ve managed to hang out with the few whom have trekked my way since we all started parting ways at Tel Aviv International Airport.

I plan on coming back to staff, and would have applied already, but I have since changed jobs, moved, and gotten engaged!!! So I think I should probably plan my wedding first and then come back to staff after all that planning is done. (Or who knows, I may change my mind and staff first, then get married. We’ll see!!)

In the mean time, I’d be happy to answer any questions about the trip and you can totally put me down as a reference if you choose to apply 😉

Shavuah tov l’kulam and see you on the flip side

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On Life in South Florida

Happy Friday everyone,

As I said previously, we had spent almost two years in South Florida where I had been working at a synagogue as an Administrator for the majority of it. Technically I was an administrative assistant but I worked full time and was responsible for several tasks beyond the initial purview and job description. I wasn’t compensated as appropriately as I should have been given the scope of work I was required to do but I don’t fully hold it against them. I do not regret my time working there and made several friends and profession connections which I greatly appreciate. That being said, I’m glad I have moved on.

At the shul, I was tasked with many general office tasks (phones, emails, donations, event RSVPs etc.) and, primarily, managing the master calendar. This involved consolidating the Temple, religious school, day school, early childhood center, PTO, youth group, summer camps, men’s club, sisterhood, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and catering calendars and making sure there was space for everyone when they needed it. I digitized as much as I could while still having paper copies for maintenance so they could set up rooms as necessary. I assisted accounting by reconciling accounts and attempted to digitize the membership folders (a momentous task in and of itself and, although I hardly made a dent, am proud of what I did accomplish). Eventually, I became responsible for billing tuition for Summer Camp and for some Religious School families, membership, and related fees. I was involved in making collections calls (something I typically dreaded, but learned to deal with), new hire paperwork/payroll, and High Holiday Ticket management.

Towards the end of my employment, I realized how stressed and unhappy I was. I felt somewhat underappreciated and overworked. There was a lot of inconsistent policy enforcement and  a serious lack in communication. We were constantly waiting on answers or confirmations and never receiving them, didn’t receive them in a timely manner, or got conflicting responses. All of this seriously reduced our work efficiency.

There was more to our time in South Florida than just my work. Kass’ employment changed a couple times (typically for the better) but ended with him driving to and from Boca (over 1.5 hours away) which was causing him serious stress and health problems. Our apartment, which seemed alright on the outside, was awful. The buildings were old and inefficient (especially the windows). The HVAC system was dying but management refused to pay for new ones. Our utility bills, therefore, were astronomical, especially because we couldn’t turn off the HVAC without breaking our lease and having mold grow on our walls. Although they said our unit was pest free, we quickly discovered termite problems when we moved in and bugs would constantly find a way in. Our roof leaked once, but even though they made external repairs, they never fixed the ceiling. The external doors had a weather seal, but it was busted up so bad that you could see outside through it. Therefore water would come in every time they pressure washed outside. Speaking of water pressure, there was basically none in the master shower which also made a horrific sound every time you turned the shower on. The kitchen didn’t have an external hood vent so everything would get covered in cooking oil/residue. When an appliance stopped working, they would take a slightly one from an unoccupied unit and then just switch it out, which didn’t always work either. There was a serious lack of communication from management regarding maintenance entering our apartment, paperwork, and the move out procedures. All the fees were astronomical and they would do everything in their power to get even more money from us. Although there were no soliciting signs posted throughout the complex, we had solicitors from businesses and Jesus/Bible Preachers almost every weekend. They would even park their vans outside our complex and walk around, as if this was their home base. Management never addressed any of this.

The girls who lived below us went through hell dealing with mold in their unit too. It was an absolute nightmare trying to get their place and belongings cleaned. They were accused of turning off the HVAC while they were away during a school break, which allowed the mold to grow. They had the power bills to prove that it had stayed on but clearly wasn’t working. All of their belongings were covered in mold and they complex tried to have them evicted for it but the girls ended up threatening them with a lawyer (after they were threatened first). I don’t quite remember how it all worked out for them (but they stayed long enough to finish their school year) but eventually the remediation and cleaning occurred but the HVAC was never fixed/replaced.

There was one situation that broke the straw with Kass. One morning we work up to what sounded like a car crash or a dumpster falling from a truck and dozens of police/SWAT cars outside in our parking lot. It turns out SWAT used a flash bang at like 6:15ish am while serving a warrant for child pornography. We only know any of this because our friend’s older brother was on the SWAT team there that morning. We received absolutely no communication from management stating “the safety of our residents is our utmost priority” or “working with police on an ongoing investigation” or anything at all in reference to the event.

We didn’t feel safe anymore.

Moral of the story, research your place really well. This was unfortunately the cheapest thing in a relatively safe area. Everything else was well out of budget. South Florida is not an affordable place man!

It didn’t help that where we lived, there wasn’t much to do that didn’t evolve money. I mean there were shopping and restaurants but that was really it. We’re not the type to go to bars and brunch every weekend and the beaches are too crowded to enjoy ourselves comfortably.

That wasn’t to say that living in South Florida was all negative. A couple times we drove out to the Keys or the Everglades and would just hang out and walk around. There were a couple parks we would visit as well. Our favorite place to go was the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. We would go about once a month and just walk around, listen to the creaky bamboo blowing in the wind, and relax. The food at their cafe was really good as well, so we almost always grabbed lunch there. The museum exhibits would change out every few months and were always interesting. Currently they have an exhibit on origami which sounds really cool and wish I could check out. They had classes and workshops you could participate in too. They had different festivals that we would go to as well. Unfortunately the festivals usually ended up pretty crowded (especially the Lantern Festival each fall) which made it harder to enjoy. But they had Fushu Daiko, a local taiko drum group, out for almost every festival in addition to traditional dancers and musicians, martial arts and tea ceremony demonstration, dozens of vendors, and catered food (which unfortunately usually wasn’t that good).

To be honest, when we weren’t hanging out at home, the place we honestly hung out the most was IKEA. We would just go to walk around and maybe buy those $1 ice cream/froyo cones. We honestly ended up there almost once a month as well. Now it almost feels weird not hanging out at IKEA all the time, but at the same time, who seriously hangs out at IKEA?

In South Florida, we were also closer to Kass’ parents, so we were more easily able to go out to dinner, celebrate holidays, and pet-sit with/for them. Although we are significantly closer to them than we were in NY in college, we’re still a good 3-4 hours away from them now, which they aren’t terribly happy with.

All in all, there are a handful of things we miss about South Florida (driving up and down A1A, looking at the water and Morikami being the majority of it) we are so much happier in our unit here in Central Florida. Our commutes are significantly shorter, our stress levels aren’t even half as high, and we’re a lot healthier for it.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and I plan on updating this again shortly.

In the mean time, Shabbat Shalom!

Blog & Overhall

Hi everyone!

It has been a long long time since anything has been updated here. I’ve decided to rename my blog and start (almost) over. A lot has changed over the past two years including travel, jobs, pets, moving and so much more! I’ll be slowly filling you in over the next several weeks as I try to blog more consistently.

For now I’m keeping the layout and theme but I would love feedback on that and whatever changes you suggest I make.

Back when I last updated, I had accepted a position at a South Florida synagogue doing administrative work. I worked there for about a year and a half and it was a good learning experience. As much as I thought I wanted a job where I sat at a desk all day and had consistent hours, I missed the flexibility that came with jobs outside the 9-5 world. After a time I realized I was overworked and underpaid. I had significantly more responsibility and was not appropriately compensated for it, and I felt like it was a dead end to be honest.

Kass had changed jobs a couple times and was dealing with a 1.5+ hour commute each way. We were tired, exhausted, stressed, and unhappy living where we were. For heaven’s sake, we hung out at IKEA when we were bored on weekends! Honestly who does that? So Kass took a leap, applied to a couple jobs in Orlando and got one! So we suddenly, with about 2ish months still left on our lease we packed up our stuff and moved (back at least for me) to Orlando! He’s changed jobs again since but I’m now back working for Disney and we’re both so much happier. We love out apartment, our jobs, and commutes. We’re so much less stressed here and that’s all we could ask for at the moment

I’ll catch you up on more changes that have happened over the past two years over the next couple weeks to bring everything up to speed before being current again. I’ll be linking up social media stuff and hopefully y’all will enjoy what’s to come!

Announcement

I have a big announcement to make! I have accepted an administrative assistant position at a local Reform Synagogue! I am leaving Starbucks at the end of the month and will begin my new job in December.

Thank you to everyone who has stuck by me through this whole process, especially to my boyfriend who has had to deal with this every day. Thank you again to my Baristas. We’ve had a fun time together and I’ll miss you. I’ll stop in every once in a while, don’t you worry.

I’m excited to start this new chapter in my life. Can’t wait!

Big Hero 6

Went out the other night with Cat and Mark and saw Big Hero 6. GAHH IT WAS SO CUTE! I missed a bunch of the Disney/Pixar “Easter eggs” that Cat and Kass saw, but that doesn’t negate its adorableness and well executed-ness. Yes I know that’s not a real word. The art work was very pretty and it was just a well done, family friendly Disney/Pixar movie. Definitely will be a classic (as long as everyone can shut up about Frozen).

To be honest, I don’t think it’s worth seeing multiple times in theater, but definitely will own on Blu-Ray/DVD when it comes out.

Moral of the story: go see it!